Short Attention Span? Me? What did you say about Ryan Gosling?

We’ve all been talking about the need to adapt our media mix to reach the younger millennial audience. We know we need to increase digital allocations, make messages feel more native and less obtrusive, be more mobile-minded, etc. But, another consideration isn’t addressed as often:

Even if we are in the right place at the right time, how do we stand out when our intended audience is doing eight things at once and will only take in a few seconds of our message?

The answer? We must continue to address media mix and consumption patterns. But we must also think about how the creative message will play in the corresponding environment. How can we break through? To illustrate, let’s consider the fastest-growing digital ad channel — video.

A recent study conducted by the IAB in partnership with Millward Brown Digital and Tremor Video confirmed that shorter-form mobile videos elicit a more-positive response from younger viewers. Millennials prefer video content of 10 seconds or less, while the older 35–54 demographic is still accepting of a standard 30-second unit. As millennials continue to age into all buying demos, it will become increasingly important to develop ad messages with their preferences in mind.

Last year, a Microsoft study validated that “the average digitized brain only pays attention for eight seconds.” Can you communicate effectively in that amount of time? If not, we may need to consider an alternative media mix or message. Based on the findings, IAB indicated that marketers should develop video ads with smaller screens in mind. Longer-format ads should be targeted to older audiences or run on larger screens. Ads geared to millennials should be well-targeted, relevant and enjoyable (Adweek, May 2016).

Consider this: YouTube, the undisputed king of skippable video ad content, has just started offering non-skippable, bite-sized “bumper ads” running prior to requested content (Bumper Ad Example). These ads are a mere six seconds in length — arguably the perfect length for today’s multitasking millennials. Until May, all ads on YouTube were skippable. This change signals the start of a larger trend in sponsored content — short, sweet and, hopefully, memorable.